Guys, we started off so well. And then it turned terrible. I am not to the point of “this was the worst episode of the series” because season 5 and season 7 exist and there were genuinely good things here, but it was an overall mess and an abundantly clear declaration of “we don’t talk to women when we write for this show.” I’m obviously in this doofus show till the end, because I would like to see what happens with their last hundred fifty minutes or whatever, but I am tired, y’all. Just real tired.
GRRM is clearly laughing all the way to the bank, and no shade on him selling his story to TV (I’d absolutely do the same), but there’s just no solid skeleton here anymore. It is Harry Potter’s arm after Gilderoy Lockhart tries to treat it. It’s a jellyfish. It’s Hexxus in his original form in Fern Gully. I need a nap.
I did like some stuff so let’s get to that first because there were some genuinely lovely things here.
The opening scene
Yes, good job, yes. I want more shows and movies that show wars to also show the cleanup from wars. It’s horrific, it’s weeping, it’s blood and gore and mud and saying goodbye and trying to keep it together and wanting to keep living in honor of those who didn’t. It’s losing in order to win. Victory itself just means you’re the one who gets to bury the dead. And this clearly took at least an entire day, maybe more than that, since the battle ended before dawn.
The shot of the pyres and the characters we lost was heartbreaking in its symmetry: these are people, with friends and families, and we have to set them on piles of wood in an orderly way so that they can be disposed of properly. And watching the characters who were left light the pyres was hard in and of itself: Grey Worm having to burn the bodies of so many of the men he lead into battle to die. Dany saying goodbye to Jorah even got me a little (although apparently what she whispered is a secret, forever, or something idk idk idc) and Sansa saying goodbye to Theon got me real good.
And Kit was great here. When he’s given non-garbage, he can act, and this was it. His speech was super Ned, super great, and the way he pitched his voice, in the combination of leadership and voice-cracking, was really, really good. And part of me felt like he was remembering Ygritte: he had to burn her, too. I may be giving the show too much credit, but I really liked this scene.
“we didn’t die let’s get smashed”: Gendrya
If you recall in Episode 2, I mentioned one of my favorite character things is “we are all probs gonna die let’s chat” and another one of my favorite character things is “holy shit we lived let’s party.” This scene was not quite spot-on perfect but it was significantly above average and I just wanna give it some praise.
Daenerys Targaryen, First of Her Name, Yanker of Chains trolling Gendry by making him think she was gonna maybe execute him but then surprise makes him a lord was Peak Dany and it was stupid and I loved it in its own way. Gendry proposing to Arya immediately after? His dialogue was sloppy, and I don’t think he’d blurt out “I LOVE YOU” like a One Directioner, but I still kind of approve of this scene. If it had happened a day or so later, I’d have liked it more, but this also goes into “holy shit we lived” territory and Gendry might be high off of those feelings and just proposing without tact, just adrenaline. But they absolutely nailed a facet of his character that I believe to be true: his non-noble birth was the big hurdle for him and a relationship with Arya. This could have been done better, but it wasn’t bad?
Oh and Sandor being like “you’re gonna go smash” wasn’t criticism, it was support
The Hound can appreciate a hounddog
Shut up and enjoy my joke
“we didn’t die let’s get smashed”: Davos, Tyrion, Bran
I don’t know when Davos turned into Previously on Game of Thrones Man but I’m here for it. Trying to process the Lord of Light stuff, bless his heart, like it wasn’t just like weirdly dragged around by the scriptwriters to help with some plots when they felt like it. I love him, I love that he thinks about stuff all the time, and I want him to get a cabin in the mountains somewhere where he can fish and smoke cigars and that’s it for like 2 months. Davos needs a vacation.
Tyrion (at this point in the episode, guys, I’m not addressing the later garbage) also needs a vacation just because he talked to Bran for more than a second which is goddamn exhausting. “I don’t really want much, anymore” shut UP you malfunctioning microfiche reader you’re so odd and for what reason? And Tyrion is super correct about Bran being, technically, if we are doing the dudes-inherit thing, the Lord of Winterfell. He has been since Season 3. I don’t know why I liked this scene, since we still don’t know where Wargy McWargface went during the battle (Burning Man?), but I think I liked it because Tyrion is your most gregarious friend at the party trying to talk to the weird dude at the party and not really making headway.
I do also appreciate Tyrion being the only person who seems to care about after the war. It was one of the few high points of season 7 to me (in particular the scene where he asks Dany about her legacy) and here, again, the Imp is noticing that all the big spots on this map have no one in charge and at best a contested lordship. The Iron Islands, the North, the Riverlands, the Reach, the Stormlands no but only as of three days ago thanks Gendry, the Westerlands??? is that Cersei, technically? Dorne has a new Prince???? Who the fuck is Dorne’s new Prince???? Is it a baby Sand Snake oh no wait they aren’t in the show and we killed everyone else WHO THE HELL IS RUNNING DORNE. WHERE IS EDMURE TULLY. DON’T *TOUCH* ME I’M FINE DON’T TOUCH ME okay okay okay I’m alright.
“we didn’t die let’s get smashed”: almost everyone else
Tormund turning the party into rushing Alpha Delta We Didn’t Die is extremely on-brand for him, and I will never, ever be tired of people giving Jon shit for being short, because I am not a nice person. His stupid phallic horn and need to bang at least one person also makes sense, and I am pretty sure he was attempting to pull Podrick which, yeah, you go, guys. I can sail on this ship. You boys go have fun.
Dany being annoyed that everyone is giving Jon props for shit she’s been doing for years is a goddamn MOOD, tho. I don’t really like how it was filmed as “oh no it’s Aerys II Redux” when it’s just every woman in a meeting when her idea gets rephrased by a colleague and suddenly everyone thinks its brilliant. Be annoyed, ma’am. Jon doesn’t ride the dragon so much as he lucks out at not falling off. I’m gonna address this assorted Dany garbage later as well, don’t you worry.
SAN-SAN REUNION. I didn’t know how much I wanted to hear Rory say “little bird” again but apparently I did. I also really, really liked him saying “if you had come with me you would have been safe” since I read it as “I, Sandor, did not do enough to protect you and force you to come with me and I hate myself” because, again, Sandor hates everyone just a little more than he hates himself. Those men did terrible things to Sansa, and he’d gladly kill them, but he also screwed up because he didn’t protect her.
I was… not a fan of the way they decided to write Sansa’s lines. I am not here to police anyone on how they choose to address their recovery from an assault, but at a personal level, I really don’t like the idea that a sexual assault made the person who they are today. I would never, ever tell someone how to heal, or how to survive, but I hella have some stuff I wish hadn’t happened to me and I feel like I’d be just as weird and great if it hadn’t. And I resent the idea that Sansa wasn’t strong before: she was a child with normal child dreams for 8 episodes in Season 1, she grew up super fast and tried to save her father, she then watched her fiance cut his head off in episode 9, and she immediately turned into at least 85% of the smart icequeen she currently is. Sansa told Joffrey in the last episode OF SEASON 1 that maybe her brother Robb would bring her Joffrey’s head. Sansa is strong, Sansa’s *been* strong, and I am really bothered hearing over and over again how annoying she was but nowwwwww she’s great. She was a kid! She was doing just fine as a kid! And everyone stanned for Arya who full-on attacked the prince of the realm like that wasn’t a dumbass move. And I love Arya, I do. But Sansa never had anything wrong with her, unless you consider being 13 and a girl a problem. And a lot of the fandom does, let’s be honest.
This girl gave us the “of course you’ll be in the vanguard; they say my brother always goes where the fighting’s thickest, and he’s only a pretender” speech IN. SEASON. 2. Show some damn respect.
…. dammit every week I’m like “this post can’t possibly be as long” and then I get super in the weeds and the weeds are my feelings and I do a word count check and I’m a thousand higher than I thought I’d be WHOOPS
Anyway, on to a part of this episode that I genuinely liked
“we didn’t die let’s get smashed/let’s smash”: Braime
I’ll get to how the showrunners ruined Christmas later but first let’s open what we got from Santa, shall we? I adored this whole set of interactions. Playing a drinking game might be one of the few ways to get Brienne out of her shell, and she feels somewhat safe with Tyrion and pretty safe with Jaime and Pod, so this is a conceivable way she joins in. Tormund is of course weird, and Brienne of course unknowingly stumbles onto one of Tyrion’s not-great bits of his past. I read this scene as Tyrion wanting to dodge any questions or followup into his first marriage and therefore calls out Brienne for being a virgin. It’s otherwise a prrrrretty dick move for a dude who isn’t a dick for no reason, and girl, I’d get up too. Also 20 points to Jiffindor for looking at his brother like “one, fuck you, two, I thought you were my wingman and that is NOT HELPING”
Then, we got what is my favorite scene from this episode. (And to be clear, as much as I want these two to get married, her knighting was still a better scene, it just was.)
I saw people complaining about Jaime having poorly written dialogue, and how he would not have just continued to tell Brienne that he got the right temperature for shelter you from the storm: he would have been more suave. Ignoring the fact that he’s somewhat drunk completely, I think this scene would have been the same had he been sober. Jaime Lannister has no fucking game. Yeah, he’s handsome and looks like the lobby of a premier hedge fund management company, but he’s only ever been with one more person, total, than Brienne. He has no idea what he’s doing, and he extra has no idea what he’s doing with a person who is both not his sister, and who is fundamentally good. Our guy is in his forties, and is trying to get some on prom night, and it was never not going to be a disaster.
The two things I found most endearing were the entire shirt fiasco, which called to mind Brienne’s frustration in season 3 when Jaime is trying to cut his food with one hand and can’t and she reaches over and stabs it so he can slice. She loves him, she wants to help, but their relationship is always going to be based a little bit on one-upmanship and irritation. I really liked this moment because of it. And Jaime, my guy, I know I said you have no game and you don’t, but you did manage to stumble on the best possible thing you could have said to Brienne and I’m giving you credit even though I think it was 5% strategy 95% panic. “I’ve never slept with a knight before” is just the most awkward and precious thing in the entire world, reminds Brienne that she’s A KNIGHT OF THE SEVEN KINGDOMS, and puts him on a somewhat level playing field with her; this part is new to him, too. I would have preferred a longer scene both because I wanna perv on these two being happy, but also because I would like to let the show demonstrate what was different with Brienne over Cersei, and how Jaime deals with the loss of his hand in intimacy. But it’s okay: this scene was still like 98% perfect and for a moment I swear we were infinite, B&W, and then you fucked it.
I’ll come back to this
One more thing I kinda liked
Bronn’s weird scene
This is probably the first scene of his that I have liked: I generally don’t like his “jokes,” they just seem like misogynistic filler, and he’s got the vocabulary of Sandor with none of the depth, and I don’t like being told to care about him because I bigly don’t. He’s older, unwashed Daario. And then this scene happened.
I….liked it? At first I was like “uh wow okay security team is garbage” but someone pointed out to me that they were in town, not in the castle, so Bronn wandering around would actually have probably been fine. The callback to “I’ll pay you double” is pretty great, especially since he gets to barter with Riverrun, and Tyrion definitely expected like, at most, a small pile of gold.
As much as I don’t really care about him or find him that funny, he is one of the most consistent characters on the show, in that he is literally always out for himself, and that has never changed, and he’s like, quadrupled-down on being the selliest of sellswords. And, because I definitely watch this show with a bit of “inherited rank is idiotic let’s bring out the slicey bois” in my back pocket at all times, I loved watching him school Jaime “Brett Hayworth Kyle Cade Cameron the 5th” Lannister about how people got to be in charge and the nobility isn’t anything but the descendants of monsters. Comrade Bronn, viva la revolucion. Who knows where this is going, but this was spot on for characters, all three of them (Bronn’s amoral Jaime’s a bit of a snob Tyrion negotiates), and while I have no hope for it to matter in a significant way because this season’s been a mess, I will recall it fondly.
Last thing I liked
Cleganebowl put up the event posters
Yessssss Sandor. I don’t know why I’m so desperate to watch a supremely damaged disaster of a person kill his undead brother but it could be really, really impactful and if they let Rory work with it I think it has the potential to be actually great. His little scene with Arya was pretty great as an isolated incident (she shouldn’t be there but I’ll address that in a moment) and they’ve always been a delight to watch. Little Murderpuppy and Murdermastiff roadtrippin’ down to Cleganebowl yesssss
That’s about it. Everything beneath AngryJonFace is my unhappiness.
And since I’m pretty sure most of you show up here to watch me rage, don’t you worry, I was saving it. I hated so many of the choices in the last portion of this episode, and the dumdums who made them are out here like “no let us explain” and I kinda want to be like “just say you’re tired of this show and wanna do your Starry War and your racist weird Civil War show because we know, y’all, we can tell.” So many things, wrong, just, SO many, let me gather my thoughts
Okay let’s start WAIT NO I LIED LEMME ADDRESS THE COFFEE CUP THING
I full-on do not care if there are flaws in a final product: catching a cast member laughing or seeing a random cell phone in a period piece is always good for laughs. However, I really appreciate watching this chuckleheads eat some crow about this since last week they were all “we didn’t make a mistake, it wasn’t too dark, our cinematic masterpiece of a show cannot be contained on your puny tablets, we have never done anything wrong ever” and then next week the Pumpkin Spice Latte Who Was Promised is just chillin’ on the table.
I’m so tired, y’all, I’m so tired. The end of this show is gonna come and it’s just gonna be like “meh.” Good Omens gets released pretty soon after, though.
Okay, for real this time, The Bad Stuff
Ae-jon is the worst at keeping secrets and the conversation with Dany about “can I just tell my family plz bae” was a disaster. Dany is 6000% correct that the North will try to put him in charge; he’s legitimate, and he’s Lyanna Stark’s son, and he’s a Targ. He’s got it all. If she wants to maintain hold, this has to stay under wraps. And if Jon were smart, he’d also not tell anyone because Jonboy, if you tell people you’re the heir to the throne, they will do the thing where they make you king, and you super just wanna ride off into the distance and chop down firewood for the next 40 years until you blissfully drop dead of exhaustion. You don’t want the responsibility, why would you tell people??? It’s super Ned of him to be like I WILL REVEAL SECRETS WHEN I FEEL IT IS GOOD TO DO SO AND NOT BEFORE and have it fuck up everyone’s lives, but that’s the only joy here.
They cheated us out of seeing the Starks react to his secret, which Bran already knew but he was too busy making a bong out of a weirwood tree or whatever he does with his time, and then Sansa goes and tells Tyrion like immediately, and Varys knows, and this is just so, so dumb. The only way it works is if Jon is hoping the secret gets to Cersei and she has him assassinated so he can finally get some rest.
I just… what is the *goal,* here? And this leads into the weird family reunion (HBO, we get it, the trees are the Starkiest thing to ever Stark, let them have meetings in a place that doesn’t require Bran to power his wooden chair over like a thousand tree roots in the snow) where Sansa and Arya are like *Tevye voice* FAMILY, TRADITION, WE ARE THE LAST OF THE STARKS and Arya proceeds to fuck off and ride south in her next scene. I personally cannot stand the trope of “I can’t tell my loved ones about this thing because they WON’T UNDERSTAND” and that’s what this is and as psyched as I am for Sandrya road trips I just…. what is the *goal,* here, guys? I don’t think they know and we won’t know, and that’s remarkable for this adaptation where GRRM asked B&W at their first meeting “who is Jon Snow’s mother?” as a test question. “Lyanna Stark but who gives a fuck” was not the correct answer.
Everybody Hates Daenerys
Show, wyd. Just an absolute disaster. And this is a thing that COULD HAVE BEEN GREAT. This series is about the grey areas: so, so few people on this show are all good or all bad, and Dany is one who (when she’s written well) can be the perfect example of this. Investigating her possible Targ madness is a really cool plot thing… when it is done *well*. It helps in the books when we get to hear her thoughts in her POV chapters, and we don’t get that here, but even in the most charitable state, I am still Not Fucking Here For this sudden twistyness of “O NO SHE’S GOING MAD” when she’s just being exactly the fucking same as before.
Varys, especially, was driving me up a goddamn wall this episode. You’re doubting her, bro? You’ve served so many monarchs we’ve lost count, and those include Robert the Usurper, and JOFFREY, and Tommen, who was controlled by Cersei. Baby’s First Despot was, in fact, Aerys II, and Varys took advantage of this to the max. But Dany being a little anxious is what makes you worry, homie? And why are you suddenly all over Jon’s dick all of a sudden??? He doesn’t want the job, he doesn’t have control over the dragons, he can’t marry Dany, and to be fair HE IS DEAD. Like, that can’t be good for continuity on the throne; Polly Pocket SadBoi is gonna get the flu and keel over in 12 hours. And when Tyrion suggests marrying them? Varys says no because Dany would control Jon. Super encouraging to hear that the king you want would get bulldozed because the queen is hot and loud. You’re a dumbass and this dialogue is a dumbass.
It seems to all be based around Dany wanting to burn down some or all of King’s Landing to win the war. Which, if we recall, was a thing Aerys II was hella gonna do, just for fun. And I don’t know what Varys’ other options are if Jon doesn’t want the job, because he’s certainly not going to work for Cersei, the posterchild for instability. And I don’t need to have two dudes sitting around a conference table talking about how a woman is going to be less liked in a position she’s more qualified for because she’s a woman: that’s what real life is for! HahahahaSOB
I’m struggling to articulate all of my frustration without doing a PhD dissertation in You’ve Fucked It Up, and this blog entry is already too long, so I’m gonna try to summarize. This could have been done well. The possibility of Dany being a despot could have been done well. The possibility of Dany being mad could have been done well. You had the time. You had 7 other seasons. But you can’t do it now and make it look like anything but lazily-written misogyny. Dany is still solidly in the top 30% of people who have held or could have possibly held the Iron Throne, and to have people acting like she’s going to be a disaster if the brave men don’t stop her or some shit is just bad, bad, bad bad bad.
Defending Dany, that is what this blog has come to, dear God
I’m titling this section after this Brillo-pad-faced clamdick because it was all the level of bad that he is and I hated it the most ever.
Michael Livingston over at Tor wrote a wonderful article about how the spearing of Rhaegal was garbage and he’s a full on professor of Medieval Culture so he knows some stuff. (Also this is my unrelated push to get on Tor’s email list: they send you entire free books sometimes, and they cover basically everything you could hope to cover, and just do it, it’s great.) I’m decidedly not a professor of anything except Being Mad Online but it is always reassuring to learn that the thing that seemed super unrealistic is in fact unrealistic.
Euron Everdeen, our saline solution second-shift Spencer’s manager, apparently got super fucking good at skeet shooting in four days and can hit a flying target with a heavy weapon from the deck of a ship but no one is gonna call him a Mary Sue, obvs. Pumice-face McBarnacleBalls with his vape-pen and who has no redeeming qualities whatsoever unless you’re short on costumes for your community production of Rock of Ages was able to knock Rhaegal out of the sky from a quarter of a mile away like he’s a neighbor’s kid’s drone hovering too close to the property line again. This was a plot choice you made and signed off on and shot and stood by. Dragons are incredibly powerful in this world, they are what let the Targaryens conquer the place to begin with, and I appreciate that you’ve written yourself into a corner, but coming up with Ice Truckers: the Camping Trip last season and this golem of plot holes and indifference this season is not a solution. You had two years. This show has magic and wildfire and a maseter who is apparently super chill with making zombies – use something that makes sense to even the playing field. You don’t get to opt out when it’s tough.
Also once again where did you get the spears it’s been like a week and those ships shouldn’t exist yes I’m still on this from three years ago. And why didn’t they have scouts. And why isn’t air superiority, a thing that is a thing militaristically, suddenly not a thing. And why did B&W say that Dany forgot about the Greyjoy fleet in the clip after the episode because what. How did she not see them. Fucking *fuck,* I hate this.
Since you have made it this far I am going to reward you with a few Euron memes I made, enjoy
Everything leading up to her execution and the execution itself was horrific. And not in the Red Wedding kind of horrific, but in the “we are way too comfortable decapitating the only woman of color on this show in order to demonstrate that a character we know is Satan is even more Satan-y and let’s just put that same woman of color whose character is a former slave in shackles while we do it.”
This was appalling. This show has a race problem, it’s had a race problem, and it just fridged a woman in the third-to-last episode of a show in order to show a woman who poisoned her husband in the first season is maybe not a good lady. And to have Tyrion walk up and try to reason with Cersei, “for the sake of her unborn child,” was just straight garbage. There’s been no confirmation that she’s even pregnant, and she doesn’t care about ANYONE. No, but please, Tyrion, talk at your sister (from like 100 feet away in a normal tone so she def can’t hear you but that’s yet another flaw in this episode, The Last of My Patience) about how she should embrace her motherly emotions or something SHE BLEW UP THE SEPT OF BAELOR AND KILLED SEVERAL HUNDRED PEOPLE. SHE GIVES ZERO FUCKS.
This ended up making me feel the same kind of uncomfortable that Sansa’s rape scene made me feel. A bad thing, done to a woman, to show that a really bad person is a really bad person. How dumb do you think your audience is, guys? And how willing do you think we are to overlook your willful blindness around race and gender? The collective reaction to your Confederate show should make this clear.
#QuitPlayingJamesWithMyTarth: Christmas is Cancelled
This scene was bad, every part of it. I don’t buy Jaime thinking he’s a bad dude all of a sudden, I don’t buy Brienne storming out into the snow in anything but like full armor, I don’t buy Jaime’s doofus speech, I especially don’t buy Brienne crying. Brienne is tough as fucking nails. Is she a gooey cinnamon roll at heart? Of course she is, but she’s only allowed Jaime to see a tiny portion of that. He hasn’t said he loves her; at this point he is a friend with at least one benefit and an unclear future.
Maybe this is another instance of “I have to go kill a person and I can’t tell my loved ones because they will try to help me or stop me” and I’m hoping it is because that is our best-case scenario here. Otherwise they Nicholas Sparks’ed us for literally no reason and one of the best redemption arcs ever is wrecked. Plus my valonqar bet is tanked and I am not gonna be happy if that happens.
And Brienne? My girl would have gotten dressed, not cried, and hit him. I’m not kidding. All her life she’s been knocking men like this into the dirt. And if she doesn’t hit him, she says “you’re wrong” super calmly and waits to be alone before she cries. This scene was very good acting on the parts of both Nikolaj and Gwendoline, and I don’t have any criticism for them; they’ve been essentially perfect since day 1. But anything good from this scene came from them, not the plot, and I hated this, I hate it, it’s bad, and may I just add if anyone recalls IT WILL TAKE SER DOOFUSHEAD LIKE A MONTH TO GET THERE. I stg this show just A Wrinkle In Time’s the Riverlands more and more each season. This fucking show.
The showrunners gave some garbage explanation about how it was more impactful for Jon to just walk away or something and it just sounded like “Our Show Is Not Lit Poorly You Just Don’t Understand Art: Part 2.” I don’t want to hear about it being difficult or costly: you shot a battle over a month and a half with a giant and three dragons and wights and magic. CGI the goddamn wolf for a goddamn second so Jon can say goodbye correctly.
I want John Wick 4 to just be Keanu and Ghost running around the world tracking down Jon Snow to make him apologize. It was never just a puppy. PET THE GODDAMN DOG, JON.
Kinda getting happy there are only two episodes left. I don’t know how you recover from this epic phoning it in, plus B&W just said they plan to be very drunk and far from the internet when the finale airs, which is some smug-ass horseshit and also everything is gonna be bad. Watch Euron take the Iron Throne and appoint Daario as Hand and change the Greyjoy house words to “Bitches Be Trippin’.”
I’m so sorry I wrote five thousand words about this, I’m so sorry. If you made it I love you.